In late April, President Trump nearly made good on his campaign promise to terminate the North American Free Trade Agreement but abruptly decided not to do so after phone calls with Canada and Mexico. At the time, the decision appeared to come down to agreements with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto to eventually renegotiate the trade agreement. Now, a report from a conservative Canadian outlet, the National Post, reveals that the White House didn’t want Trump to put NAFTA in the paper shredder. And some advisors reportedly contacted Trudeau and implored him to talk some sense into their boss.
To add even more drama to the equation, Toronto’s Metro newspaper says that Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner was the one who made the phone call.
If these reports are true, it sure sounds like the advisors, including Kushner, realize that Trump’s foreign policy does not promote stability. The good news, however, is that Trudeau was ready to persuade Trump not to pull the self-destruct button. The bad news? Trump is so volatile that he needs to be reeled in by another world leader. Some details from the National Post:
The President was said to be persuaded by the argument to kill what he has repeatedly called the “worst trade deal ever,” despite concerns about the economic disruption that might result. According to Canadian government sources, White House advisers pushing a more cautious approach then called Ottawa to ask for Trudeau’s assistance.
“You never know how much of it is theatre, but it didn’t feel that way,” said one senior Canadian diplomatic source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter. “Maybe they’re just learning how to be a government. At least they were open to the conversation, and that stopped them doing something rash and destructive.”
At the time, Trump explained his decision not to terminate as a change of heart, yet his reconsideration appeared to be both uncharacteristic and abrupt. He’d already spent a great deal of the week trashing Canadian diary farmers and lumber imports, which signaled bad news for NAFTA. Still, Trump managed to be convinced by Trudeau and doesn’t appear to realize anything out of the ordinary happened. The question remains — who’s really running the White House show? (That’s a silly question … many suspect that it’s Steve Bannon and/or Kushner, and the latter must have won a coin toss.)